Portage Park respite care center for adults to close due to funding issues
by BRIAN NADIG
A respite care facility in Portage Park that has served developmentally disabled adults since 1985 is closing Friday, Sept. 29, due to a lack of funding.
“We’re basically broke right now,” said Diane Gunaka, executive director of the Sunshine Activity Center, 6202 W. Montrose Ave. “We’re closing and selling everything in the building.”
The center will hold a “cash and carry” sale from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, Oct. 9 to 13. Kitchen equipment, desks, filing cabinets, bookshelves, toys, puzzles, laptop computers, power tools and commercial shelving are among the items for sale.
The nonprofit center had been receiving an annual state grant of about $140,000, but it became ineligible in 2016 when the Rauner administration changed the grant criteria, Gunaka said. The center was unsuccessful it its attempt to appeal the denial, she said.
The new criteria would require the center to take small groups of its clients to off-site activities, such as a restaurant or sporting event. Gunaka said. “We don’t have the transportation or the staff for it, or the budget,” she said.
Taking some of the center’s clients to an outside event would have be difficult due to the severity of their condition, Gunaka said.
Most of Sunshine’s clients are in their 40s and 50s and live with a relative. In the past the center has had as many as 27 clients, but the total has dropped to 12 as the center prepares to close, Gunaka said.
The center provides dinner for its clients and helps them with their socialization and personal care skills in addition to hosting fitness, music and art activities. The center, which was previously located at 4036 N. Nashville Ave., is open 2 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. weekdays.